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Virulence. 2013 Jul 1;4(5):400-9. doi: 10.4161/viru.25338.

Two quorum sensing systems control biofilm formation and virulence in members of the Burkholderia cepacia complex.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland.


The Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc) consists of 17 closely related species that are problematic opportunistic bacterial pathogens for cystic fibrosis patients and immunocompromised individuals. These bacteria are capable of utilizing two different chemical languages: N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs) and cis-2-unsaturated fatty acids. Here we summarize the current knowledge of the underlying molecular architectures of these communication systems, showing how they are interlinked and discussing how they regulate overlapping as well as specific sets of genes. A particular focus is laid on the role of these signaling systems in the formation of biofilms, which are believed to be highly important for chronic infections. We review genes that have been implicated in the sessile lifestyle of this group of bacteria. The new emerging role of the intracellular second messenger cyclic dimeric guanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP) as a downstream regulator of the fatty acid signaling cascade and as a key factor in biofilm formation is also discussed.


Burkholderia; N-acyl homoserine lactone; biofilm; diffusible signal factor; quorum sensing; virulence

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